Pr3ssure

First forge weld/Fire poker attempt

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So on Friday I got my fire built up bigger and better than ever, I was able to get the metal sparkling hot without putting it towards the bottom of the fire pot. So I figured I'd try my hand at a fire poker, a forge welded tip fire poker. It took a few heats but I finally got about an inch-inch and a half welded. I was quite pleased with my self, as I thought to myself I must be destined for great forgings, welding on my first attempt. =] Anyway, no more stroking my ego, cause I ultimately went to taper it to a point and noticed the part coming off as a hook was un recoverably thin coming off the weld. I kept going for goings sake and shaped the point. Once I started trying to work the hook it almost instantly broke off (my dreams of being a master smith along with it).

I was wondering though, was I just using sloppy hammer technique? Well I know I was, but was that the problem? Or could it have been the stock I started with was just too thin. I think it was 3/8 round.

I didn't take any pictures because I left the phone at the house, but only the side that would have been the hook got too thin.

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Make several more forge welds to test your theory.  

Carefully figure out what you want the finished product to look like. This will give you an idea of how much metal you need to start with. Modeling clay is great for these things.

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I've actually been wanting to get some clay to mess around with. It just always slips my mind to pick some up. I'm hoping I have time to go forge tomorrow to try again.

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Sparkling Hot...usually means burning metal, and that creates massive amounts of oxidation build up, and will prevent a good weld.  White hot, with no sparks, but a kind of liquid look to the metal is about what you want, good flux, parts held together ----->(I do a  light grind and clamp /wire them into place with heavy Gage wire after grinding the oxidation from the two surfaces to be welded, then when you bring them to yellow heat, flux, the sides, when the flux melts, it is time to weld it....)...light taps to set the weld, then even solid strikes to set it. let it cool slowly, to allow it to normalize, then bring it back to temp. to begin to shape it out.

If it is your first welding attempts, use flat stock mild steel, to practice on... get into the habit of Clean/Grind -----Clamp ----heat to yellow---Flux---heat to melt of flux, tap to set, weld strikes) and then when you get your first few done, cut them in half so you can see the inside of the weld, it will tell you LOTS about the process, if you get it too hot, you will see the grain, if you get it to cold you will see the separation cracks.  Repeat...repeat...repeat, once you get good at flat stock, move to harder stuff. but the process remains the same.

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So, I'm looking to get some flux so I can try to correctly and successfully attempt to forge weld. I know I don't have to have it but I know that being a beginner it will help me learn how to do it. So what kind of flux do you use? I know of Mule 20 Borax and Anhydrous Borax which are both available at about $12 a pound on amazon. Is there something else in that price range that works better? I'm not trying to go with the Red Mountain Flux or whatever it's called, it's $50 for a bottle and it doesn't even look like it's a pound. So Until I'm confident in my skills and all that I'm not even going to attempt spending that kind of money to just waste it all for nothing. 

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Forge weld what?  The flux is chosen depending on the alloys used.  For mild steel and simple HC alloys I use 20 mule team. For A-36 I usually add in some Boric Acid (found cheap as Roach-Prufe) to the 20 mule team.  Collect the "popcorn as it's more anhydrous  so as my mix gets older it works more and more like anhydrous borax.

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I don't have any stores near me other than Dollar General and a 711, I'll check the Dollar Store for some Mule but I don't know if they will have it. If not I'm not going to town in the next few days Amazon will be quicker. I get free 2 day shipping with prime.

And as for "what" I'm trying to weld. I currently just want to practice. I have some weld steel from Lowes or A36 of whatever it is. and the rest is just scrap. So who knows.

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The folks in UK do not use any flux and seem to get along just fine. Flux is NOT glue, the proper flux just helps a little. 

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Good Morning,

You can use red clay brick or Glass, as Flux.

Break up the red brick, grind it in a mortar & pestle to a fine powder. Same with Glass, break it up and grind it to a powder. 20 Mule Team is common as dirt, in most grocery stores. K.I.S.S., don't make it a problem, use what you have. A box of 20 Mule Team might be $7-8.00.

My understanding, Anhydrous means no moisture. Putting the Borax on a cookie sheet makes it anhydrous.

Flux helps, but it is not glue. It is a liquid that carries the impurities on the surface of the pieces you are welding. Most Propane fires weld better with Flux. UK uses Coke, not many impurities in the Coke, it has already been through one fire.

Yes, I know. Shaddap.

Neil

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I would like to point out that flux can be used to protect the steel when heating the steel over a prolonged heat from burning up. I use 20 mule borax, love it.

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6 hours ago, swedefiddle said:

A box of 20 Mule Team might be $7-8.00

I think you might be paying too much, I see you live in Victoria, check your local canadian tire (20mule team is $4.50ish), I know things tend to cost more on the island but still I think you can do better than $7-$8!

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I didn't know you could use glass or clay brick. I'm gonna check the Dollar general today for Mule I guess. I'm not sure if I'll have time to fire up the forge today, I've gotta plug a tire and I'm going to be welding walls on my forge table. Getting tired of coal wanting to fall off the table. I'm also going to try and use the base of an old barber stand to make a stand for my vise. Not sure if the hydraulics in it still work but I think it'd be neat if they still did.

Thanks for all the input though. I'll be sure to post a picture of my next attempt.

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Fluxes range in how "active" they are at welding temps; things like powdered glass, fine silica sand, dirt daubers nests and wood ash are on the 'passive"' end of the range and work best for forge welding at high temps---so mild steel or real wrought iron.

More active fluxes like borax or B&Ba  Borax and Boric acid work for a wide range of steels.

At the upper range of activity are fluxes designed to work with high alloy steels with a lot of chromium and other 'difficult' alloys. They often contain fluorspar,  CaF2, which evolves fluorine in use---VERY ACTIVE AND TOXIC gasses!!!!!!

On the other hand fluxless welding can be done; either by the 'box' method or by heating the metal past the point where the scale melts. (High Carbon steels work better in the box method as they tend to burn up at the high temps needed by the other.)

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there is a more involved  thread on this at

 

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20 mule at home depo is like 4.50$ a box, you can also use straw, bone, or ash.

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They had 20 Mule Borax at the Dollar General down the road from me. A 4 pound box for $4.50. I have some other stuff I need to get done like weld on my walls to the forge table and cut my stump so I can get my anvil off the ground and making a stand for my vise. So I may or may not have time to try and forge anything today. If I do I'll post some pictures here success or fail.

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Go for the 20 Mule Team at DG. That box will last you a long time. Most smiths I know use borax...just keep it simple and use the borax. With mild steel, you'll be fine.

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On 12/24/2018 at 10:50 PM, Illya said:

then when you bring them to yellow heat, flux, the sides

If your NOT running a reducing atmosphere you are going to want to flux before a yellow heat because scale will have already formed between the pieces you are trying to weld.

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56 minutes ago, Benona blacksmith said:

If your NOT running a reducing atmosphere you are going to want to flux before a yellow heat because scale will have already formed between the pieces you are trying to weld.

yellow heat is relative temp though, for mild steels that can be 1900 for tool steels it can be like 23-2500. alloys get weird with the color temp

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I'm running a coal forge with anthracite.I'm just going to go with trial and error. I'll figure it out I guess.

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Greetings Pr3ssure, 

     Keep it simple ... Start with some 1/2 in square stock . Fold over approximately 1 in not tight .AKA fagot weld .. Heat to bright red.. hard wire brush .. Flux.. . Heat to bright white... flip off the flux .. than to the anvil quickly for only one smack.. return to the forge and a white heat to finish.. As you progress you will be able to complete the weld on the first heat..  Other welds will come with practice. 

FORGE ON AND MAKE BEAUTIFUL THINGS 

Jim

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Welding temp can be anything above half it's melting temp. but low carb steels wont weld without the high heat. higher the carbon content the easier it sticks. its also important for the welded parts to be in the same phase state and relatively same temp. 

another trick is do a prolonged soak time imbetween welds to allow the steel to weld to itself from grain growth. but clean surfaces are a must, it takes a VERY long time soaking for the steel to absorb any content that gets stuck inside of it.

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Ahhh solid phase welding can take place at pretty much any temperature above absolute zero if  you have enough cleanliness (like vacuum welding that can occur in space; or pressure, like galling or even explosive welding.  Higher temp is just the *easier* method. (I've seen Billy Merritt weld at temps I considered low for forging at!)

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well to be specific its the friction or grain growth in contact that welds. the pressure is just the applica and the unclean surfaces block the fusion.

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